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People and organizations
Religion

Community Liturgy

  • Corporate body
  • 1958-2007

As a congregation, there is a significant focus placed on community liturgy and both independent and guided prayer. Prayer is central to the Sisters’ lives of quietude and contemplation — a means to meet God in silence and contemplate the ways in which one has encountered him in their daily interactions. Prayer is not only performed independently, but collectively through daily celebration of the Eucharist (also referred to as Mass). A broader example of community prayer and celebration is performed before or during major events — a type of prayer known as indulgences. While the historical roots of indulgence run deep, in the modern day these prayers are said as a means of giving special attention and gathering community efforts as communicated by the Vatican. They serve as an act of bestowing goodwill and blessing during new, unfamiliar, or trying times. While prayer and quiet contemplation are central to the lives of the Sisters, public service and maintaining a strong bond within the communities they live in is also of great importance. Along with providing service to the people in their community, the Sisters produced booklets and newsletters as means to share their reflections and particular focuses within the community, and practice solidarity in faith and worship more generally.

Diocese of London

  • Corporate body
  • 1910-1979

A diocese is a level of unit of administration for a Church or religious organization, usually led by a high-ranking church official, such as a bishop. The Diocese of London was established on February 21, 1856 under the guidance of Bishop Pierre-Adolphe Pinsoneault. In 1867, Bishop Pinsoneault was succeeded by Bishop John Walsh. At the request of Bishop Walsh, five Sisters from Toronto answered the call to spearhead the education of children and care for the elderly in the London area, as the population of London was growing due to immigration, primarily of Irish Catholics, to the diocese. The Sisters went on to establish the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada in London in December 11, 1868. The Sisters of St. Joseph served the community through their involvement in health services, education and engagement in religious missions. The fifth Bishop of the Diocese, Bishop Michael Francis Fallon, was a strong supporter of Catholic education, and founded St. Peter’s Seminary and also helped support the Women’s College of the London area, Brescia College. Missionary work was an important part of the work that the Diocese engaged in and organized many committees and commissions. They presided and oversteered the financial and admirative aspects of these missions so that they were both successful and financially sound. In February 1974, Sister Mary Brendan Flynn and Sister Teresa Carmel visited Labrador at the request of Bishop Peter Sutton of the Labrador-Schefferville Diocese. The Sisters participated in Bishop Gerald Emmett Carter’s call upon clergy, religious men and women and the laity to participate in the Second Synod of the Diocese of London in 1966-1969 to restructure and address church reform to include active participation from church laity. Currently the Diocese of London comprises of southwestern counties of Ontario including Middlesex, Elgin, Norfolk, Oxford, Perth, Huron, Lambton, Kent and Essex Counties.

History

  • Corporate body
  • 1925-2014

The Sisters of St. Joseph congregation began in Le Puy, France in 1650 when six women joined together to offer their lives to those in need. By 1683, they had expanded the congregation to Gap, St. Vallier and Vienne. The women devoted their time to caring for the sick, the aging, orphans, the poor, and the imprisoned. During the French Revolution, the convents were suppressed, and many Sisters were arrested and imprisoned, including Mother St. John Fontbonne. After the French Revolution in 1808, Mother St. John Fontbonne re-established the congregation in Lyon, France and in 1863 many Sisters were sent to North America, where the first congregation, Carondelet, was established in St. Louis, Missouri, with the help of Mother Delphine Fontbonne. She later went on to establish the congregation in Toronto, Ontario in 1851. This was followed by the founding of the Hamilton congregation in 1852, the London congregation in 1868, the Peterborough congregation in 1890, and the Pembroke congregation in 1921.

The Sisters of St. Joseph still flourishes today, and in 2012 four of the six Congregations, Hamilton, London, Peterborough, and Pembroke, joined together to become the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada. The Sisters’ still make it their mission to reflect “a profound love of God and of neighbour without distinction”. Today, the Sisters of St. Joseph can be found worldwide in over 54 countries and continue to respond to the needs of others.

Jubilees

  • Corporate body
  • 1932-2017

Jubilees are celebrations, where Sisters renew their vows and celebrate their 25th, Golden (50th), Diamond (60th), Grace (70th), 75th and 80th year anniversaries with the congregation.

The jubilee date is calculated from the reception date which takes place nine months after the postulant entered the convent. At the reception ceremony, the postulant received the habit.

Jubilees are celebrated one to two times a year, depending on the number of Sisters celebrating anniversaries. When there are two jubilee ceremonies in one-year, younger Sisters are recognized in May, and senior Sisters are honoured in September. Unless the Sisters decide that they want a private jubilee, friends and family are invited to the hour-long mass and large feast that make up the day of celebration.

Reunions, where Sisters who left the congregation were invited to return for visitation, occurred far less frequently than jubilees. The last reunion took place when the congregation was moving to a new convent in 2007, and wanted to give former Sisters one last chance to walk through the building. Much like jubilees, reunions were a day long event, with an hour-long prayer service and lots of good food.

Sister Lists

  • Corporate body
  • 1911-2012

This series contains records of the activities of the Sisters including their occupational work appointments, residences, vows, and any departures from the congregation that occurred. The material contained in this series is primarily administrative and allowed the Sisters to keep track of membership, duties, and contact information.

Occupational work was assigned based both on the needs of the community and the skills and training of the Sisters. The primary occupational work fulfilled by Sisters outside of the congregation was in education or nursing, but Sisters also fulfilled roles within the congregation such as housekeeping, and administrative work. With an increasingly aging population, there has been a greater dependence on lay staff to fulfill these sorts of duties within the community.

The large range in dates of the records provides insight into changes that have taken place in the congregation since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), most notably in the lists of name changes and the lists of sisters who withdrew from the congregation. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, women who joined religious orders received new names of patron saints when they took their vows to represent their separation from the lay world. The Second Vatican Council called upon religious orders to return to their roots and emphasized the value of not separating religious life from the rest of the world, and a large part of this was having Sisters reclaim their baptismal names. Some Sisters felt that the changes imposed by the Second Vatican Council were too much, and there was an exodus of withdrawals in the later 1960s.

Sister Mary Anthony Hartleib

  • Person
  • February 10, 1924- June 23, 2008

Sister Mary Anthony Hartleib (nee Mary Anne Lenore) was born in Stratford, Ontario on February 10, 1924. She was the daughter of Charles Henry Hartleib and Loretta Durand. Her stepmother was Mary Hartleib of Waterloo, Ontario. Mary Anne Lenore Hartleib joined the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of London, Ontario and received the habit on July 2, 1965. She made her first vows on July 2, 1966 and her final vows on May 30, 1971 in the Chapel at Mount St. Joseph. She was given the religious name Sister Mary Anthony. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in art and theology at the University of Windsor in 1969, and then studied at Althouse College in London, Ontario. Sister Mary Anthony received a permanent teaching certificate in 1972, a supervisor’s certificate in art, and a teaching certificate in art and English. From 1970 until 1981, she supervised the art department at Mount St. Joseph Academy in London. She was appointed assistant bursar at Mount St. Joseph, but continued with art and the teaching of ceramics until 1985 when her art work took a new turn. Always interested in the spiritual, Sister Mary Anthony turned to iconography. She spent two years studying Chinese water colour painting, followed by three years of iconography. She was a scholar, a skilled teacher of art, and a passionate advocate of the way icons open the mystery of the sacred. Sister Mary Anthony became well known as an iconographer and maintained a studio in the Sisters’ residence after Mount St. Joseph Academy closed. For several years, she shared her knowledge of iconography with the seminarians at St. Peter’s Seminary in London. The community of the Sisters of St. Joseph moved to 485 Windermere Road in 2007, where Sister Mary Anthony occupied her own art studio. Three of her icons, including that of the Blessed Trinity, were placed in the Chapel at the new residence. After a very short illness, Sister Mary Anthony died in the care centre at the Sisters’ Residence on June 23, 2008. Her funeral Mass of Resurrection was celebrated in St. Joseph Chapel in the residence at 485 Windermere Road. Father Frank O’Connor of St. Peter’s Seminary was the main celebrant. Sister Mary Anthony was buried in St. Peter’s cemetery in London.

Sister Mary Leo Kirwin

  • Person
  • January 7, 1922-November 26, 2015

Sister Mary Leo Kirwin was born Mary Margaret Kirwin in Ingersoll, Ontario on January 7, 1922 to Leo Joseph Kirwin and Mae Henesey. Mary attended Sacred Heart School from 1936-1940 and Ingersoll Collegiate Institute from 1940-1942. She then completed her teacher training at London Normal School from 1941-1942. After earning her teaching certificate, she spent the summer of 1942 working in a munitions factory, but began teaching in September of that year. Her teaching career began at RCSS #2 in Clinton, Ontario. She then taught at Sacred Heart School in Ingersoll from 1944-1946, and later moved to St. Mary’s School from 1946-1947. On July 2, 1947, Mary Kirwin entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph and received the habit. She took the name Sister Mary Leo on January 3, 1948, and made her first vows on January 3, 1950. She took her final vows on January 3, 1953.

Sr. Mary Leo Kirwin worked as a teacher from 1950-1953 at the Holy Rosary School in London, Ontario. From 1953-1957, she served at this school as the principal. She moved to Simcoe to be a teacher and principal at St. Mary’s Catholic School from 1957-1961. During this time, Sr. Mary Leo also attended the University of Western Ontario and obtained her B.A. in 1958. From 1961-1965, she taught at St. Louis School, Riverside in Windsor. She remained in Windsor from 1965 to 1967, where she taught at F.J. Brennan Catholic High School. She then returned to London and became a teacher and head of the home economics department at Mount St. Joseph Academy from 1969-1983. While she was teaching in London, she graduated from the University of Toronto with an Honours Specialist in Home Economics in 1980.

In 1983, Sr. Mary Leo was called to move to Edmonton to serve as the General Superior of St. Joseph’s Convent and act as coordinator of Western Houses, a role in which she served until 1989. While living at the Edmonton Regional House in 1987, Sister Mary Leo became involved with the People In Need Shelter Society during a housing crisis. Along with Sister Alice Caswell and Sister Olga Barilko, she worked with disabled people. She also worked with the poor alongside Sister Esther Lucier. Her involvement grew and eventually the Society named a house for homeless men and women after her (the Kirwin Lucier House). From 1989-1991, she took up a new role at Elizabeth Place, a home for needy women in Edmonton. She was also involved with the Elizabeth Fry Society where she worked with prison women doing handiwork and visiting. In 1991, she returned to London, where she served as the general treasurer at Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse until 1998. In addition, she was on the local leadership council. Although she retired in 1998, Sr. Mary Leo Kirwin still provided relief for Sr. Veronica Cooke at Elaine Lucas Place from 1999-2001. The Elaine Lucas Place in London is a 45 bed residence for the homeless on Little Simcoe Street with which Sr. Mary Leo Kirwin was affiliated.

Sr. Mary Leo was involved in many committees throughout her life, including the Elizabeth Fry Society in Edmonton, L.I.F.T. Housing in London, and the Congregational bursary, donations, and strategic planning committees. She was also a community representative on the Red Cross Board.

One of her lasting contributions was her work with a low-income housing organization in Edmonton, the Edmonton Inner City Housing Society. The society opened its first project, a five-bedroom house in the McCauley neighbourhood and 30 years later, the year Sr. Mary Leo died, the same Edmonton Inner City Housing Society had grown to the point where it owned and managed more than 20 housing developments. These houses provided shelter for individuals and families, and supported 500 people in 300 housing units in inner city neighbourhoods.

Sr. Mary Leo also, as a result of visiting at Edmonton Women’s Prison, saw the need for post-incarceration housing for women. The Congregation bought a house, known as Elizabeth House, with a Sister serving as housemother. Later, they purchased another house called Tess’s House, with Sister Theresa Carmel Slavik serving as housemother for at risk young adults.

The Kirwin-Lucier House, which opened in 1993 in Edmonton, is a housing project of the Edmonton People in Need Shelter Society and provides a home for people with chronic mental disorders or substance abuse. It was named after Sisters Mary Leo Kirwin and Esther Lucier for their contributions to the society and its clients.

Sister Mary Leo was an expert at needlework, sewing of all kinds, quilting, upholstery, caning, and gardening. In 1976, her students at Mount St. Joseph Academy made an Olympic quilt which was presented to Prime Minister Trudeau. She continued making at least two quilts each year with a friend from the low cost housing development in London, until her death.

Sr. Mary Leo died November 26, 2015 in London, Ontario and is buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery in London, Ontario.

Sister Mary Lillian Kuntz

  • Person
  • December 30, 1935-October 23, 2015

Mary Lillian Kuntz was born in London, Ontario on December 30, 1935. She was the daughter of Edward J. Kuntz and Margaret H. Ward.

Mary Lillian attended St. Angela’s School in London from 1949-1950, and then Catholic Central High School in London from 1950-1953. She entered the Congregation on July 2, 1953 and received the habit and her religious name Dolores on January 3, 1954. She took her first vows on January 3, 1956 and her final vows on January 3, 1961. Sister Mary Lillian trained at London Teachers’ College from 1956-1957. Later, she attended the University of Windsor, obtaining her B.A. in 1965. This was followed by the completion of an M.A. in Educational Administration from Columbia University in New York in 1976. Almost a decade later, she completed a B.A. and J.C.L. in Canon Law from the University of Ottawa in 1985.

Sister Mary Lillian served as a teacher and principal in London from 1957-1972. She spent the summer of 1969 in Uganda, teaching mathematics to teachers. She then moved to Yellowknife, where she was principal at St. Patrick’s High School until 1977. During her time in the north, she also served as a bursar for the local religious community. She returned to London, and taught high school mathematics from 1978-1981. She then worked as an administrator at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse from 1981-1983.

Following this, Sister Mary Lillian studied canon law in Ottawa from 1983-1985, and then received several canonical appointments. She was the Associate Judge and substitute Defender of the Bond for the Vancouver Regional Tribunal, working through the Nelson, B.C. office in 1984. She then served as Judge and Defender of the Bond for the Nelson Marriage Tribunal after it became a distinct Diocesan Tribunal in 1985. She was appointed to the Disability Pension Committee for the Diocese of Nelson in 1985. In 1987, she was appointed Judge, Auditor and Notary on the Marriage Tribunal in Nelson. She held this position until 1993, when she also became the Director of the Marriage Tribunal. In 1996, she became the Director of the Nelson-Kamloops Interdiocesan Tribunal, still serving as a Judge and Auditor.

Sister Mary Lillian held other positions of service, including on the Diocesan Synod Steering Committee, the Diocesan Pastoral Council, the Diocesan Sexual Abuse Committee, and the Cathedral Liturgy Committee. She was the treasurer for the Sisters’ Council in the Diocese of Nelson. Sister Mary Lillian was also a world traveller.

Sister Mary Lillian died on October 23, 2015 in London Ontario and is buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery, in the same city.

Workshops and Events

  • Corporate body
  • September 1953- December 2006

The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in London has been around since the 19th century. The longevity of the organization has seen many members both formerly and currently working with the diocese to spread the word of God and the community involvement of the Sisters that represent the Congregation. Anniversaries have come and gone which continue to build on the legacy of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Workshops and events focused around celebrations, reunions and festivals usually accompanied a major accomplishment or transition within the Congregation and helped to memorialize the progress of the Sisters that make up the diocese in Canada. The workshops and events sometimes were also arranged around missioning ceremonies like a send off or return of a Sister from another country to spread the word of God and the Congregations community involvement. Workshops range from educational to creative and encourage positivity.